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how to get into business school

How to Get Into Business School

Are you interested in getting an MBA but you’re wondering exactly how to get into business school? An MBA takes a serious investment of time and money. Naturally, so does the process of getting into an MBA program. Most people considering an MBA program are likely working part-time or full-time. Most MBA programs require some work experience, typically full-time and at least two years. An executive MBA will likely require more years of work experience, often at least five years. The reality that most people applying will be currently employed means they have to work around their daily lives to make time for studying and applying. Individual requirements regarding work experience will vary and also will be impacted by prior education. It is best to check out each school’s requirements and even speak with counselors about where there is flexibility.

how to get into business school

If you know you want to apply for an MBA program and have the time, it makes sense to start studying and preparing well ahead of time. For some people, this process might start a year ahead or more. In addition to studying for the GMAT/GRE tests, it is helpful to start preparing for the actual application process ahead of time. As with anything in life, preparedness is key and will absolutely pay off in the long run. 


Of course before you even get into an educational program, you have to study for it. For some MBA candidates, studying will be something they have not done in a long time and others might only be a couple of years removed from school. Regardless, any person needs to figure out the best schedule and methods of studying for them. Every person has to balance studying and test-taking with their personal and work lives. Certainly not every person is going to know as far ahead of time that they want to get an MBA, but the earlier you can start studying the better. Treat the process as seriously as the program. Set aside time and you will see results.

how to get into business school

If possible, look into tutoring programs for the GRE/GMAT tests. They do take time and money, but for many people this goes a long way into improving scores and helping prep in other ways for the application and interview process. Further, if time and money allow, plan to take the exams a couple of times. The first time is potentially nerve-wracking for a lot of people and the experience might help them relax and adjust. In particular, GMAT questions get harder the more you answer correctly.

Aside from tutoring programs, take advantage of any free or low-cost tools provided online or in books you can find at most bookstores. 

Test Limits

It is possible to take the GMAT exam once every 16 calendar days, with a limit of five times in a rolling 12 month period. There is also a lifetime limit of eight times total as of December 17, 2016. With the GRE, you are able to test once every 21 days, and up to five times in a continuous, rolling 12-month period. 

While it might help to take the real exams once or twice to practice and get used to it, do keep in mind the limits in a year and the lifetime limits as applicable. Further, look into what exams are required by the programs you want to get into as they will vary.


MBA programs will often require two essays. For programs you are interested in, check their prompts and even other prompts available if you have the time and want more practice. It may help to make bullet points or some type of outline of all the ideas you have related to the prompt. This way it is easier to expand on those ideas then to just start writing and hope to finish without any kind of outline. 

As you practice, seek feedback and guidance from trusted friends and colleagues. Often, reading your own writing over and over makes it harder to adequately critique it. You will turn out a much stronger essay if other people have had a chance to look at it. Remember, they are trying to help you improve your chances of getting into the MBA program. Before you turn in the final product, be sure to seek an outside opinion one last time.


Since most MBA programs will require at least some work experience, the good news is you should be somewhat familiar with interviews. Still, many people are often nervous regardless or unfortunately do not prepare well enough. 

Treat the interviews like any serious job interview. Prepare by researching the program thoroughly. Obviously you want an MBA, but make sure you are able to thoroughly explain why and specifically why the program for which you are interviewing. If possible, practice interviewing with a friend, colleague, or even a family member. While this sometimes feels silly or weird at first, it will absolutely help you. The interview will feel more natural and since you have practiced the subject matter at hand, you will have confidence in what you are saying.

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Check out our MBA Guides page for more tips and advice on how to get into business school.